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Sep 30, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, September 30

NBC off to good start with Sunday lineup

The first weekend of the 2002-03 season turned out to be a good one for NBC, particularly Sunday night. Planting two news dramas — “American Dreams” and “Boomtown” — on its Sunday schedule, the Peacock Network swept the night in adults 18 to 49, total viewers and households, scoring some marginal year-to-year increases.

Coming off a typically third-ranked adults 18 to 49 score for “Dateline NBC” (1.8 rating/6 share) in the 7 p.m. hour (ET), the series premiere of “American Dreams” moved up 150 percent in the lead-out 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame with a first-ranked 4.5/12 average in the key demo, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. In addition to improving the time period 21 percent in the demo vs. the year-ago Sunday airing of the “Weakest Link” game show (3.7/9), the American Bandstand-inspired period drama jumped 24 percent in total viewers (10.7 million vs. 13.3 million) and 23 percent in households (7.3/11 vs. 9.0/14).

“Dreams” held a 36 percent margin of victory over the first hour of Fox’s special airing of sci-fi/action film “The Matrix” (3.3/9) and an 80 percent margin over the second hour of ABC’s highly touted “Prince William” telefilm (2.5/7). For the entire 7 p.m.-to-9 p.m. frame, the “William” biopic came in with less than royal, bottom-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (2.0/6), total viewers (6.9 million) and households (4.8/8). CBS won the 7 p.m. hour in total viewers (13.2 million) and households (8.8/15), but it was difficult to gauge how carryover broadcasts of NFL games delayed the start of “60 Minutes” in the Eastern and Central time zones.

In the 9 p.m. hour, NBC’s second-season opener of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” tied ABC’s sophomore opener of “Alias” in adults 18 to 49 (5.0/11 vs. 5.0/12), with the former improving 11 percent on its year-ago average (4.5/10). “Alias,” however, was off 20 percent from its last year’s premiere in adults 18 to 49 (6.2/14).

The stronger lead-in flow translated to NBC’s series premiere of the 10 p.m.-to-11 p.m. cop drama “Boomtown” turning in a competitive second-ranked 4.9/12 in adults 18 to 49 — up 7 percent from the year-ago debut of “U.C. Undercover” (4.6/11). ABC’s seventh-season opener of “The Practice” won the hour in adults 18 to 49 (5.5/13), but that was off 31 percent from its year-ago opener (7.2/18).

CBS’s 9 p.m.-to-11 p.m. movie presentation of “Mission Impossible II” came in last at a 3.5/8 average in adults 18 to 49.

For the night, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 (4.1/11), improving 5 percent from its year-ago Sunday season opener. NBC also won in total viewers (12.7 million) and households (8.6/14), moving up 19 percent in head count year to year. CBS’s second-ranked score in adults 18 to 49 (3.8/10) was up 12 percent year to year. ABC’s 3.7/10 in adults 18 to 49 marked a hefty 21 percent decline while Fox’s 3.2/.9 was off 22 percent — compared with a year-ago week in which it similarly did not have its typically top-ranked Sunday comedy lineup ready for debut until later in the season.

WB and CBS gain in new season: At the end of the first week of the season (Sept. 23-29), preliminary Nielsen Media Research showed The WB and CBS with the largest year-to-year rating increases in most key demos and total viewers.

CBS ended the week with a second ranking to NBC in adults 18 to 49 (4.5 rating/12 share vs. 5.4/14), with the Eye Network boasting a 15 percent year-to-year increase. NBC is down 4 percent from its year-ago week average in the key demo (5.6/15).

The biggest across-the-board increases, though, belong to The WB Network, which is tracking robust 75 percent and 100 percent spikes in adults 18 to 49 (2.1/6 vs. 1.2/3) and adults 18 to 34 (2.4/7 vs. 1.2/4), respectively. The WB’s prime-time lineup is up 58 percent in teens (3.0/10 vs. 1.9/7) and 64 percent in total viewers (4.96 million vs. 3.02 million) year to year.

CBS’s first week of the new season saw a 22 percent increase in adults 18 to 34 (3.3/9 vs. 2.7/8), a 43 percent jump in teens (2.0/7 vs. 1.4/5) and an 11 percent increase in total viewers (13.84 million vs. 12.51 million). NBC still won the premiere week of the 2002-03 season in adults 18 to 34 (4.9/14) and came in second in total viewers (13.40 million), but is tracking slight 2 percent and 1 percent decreases year to year, respectively.

Despite solidifying its Tuesday and Wednesday nights with comedies, ABC is still tracking a 19 percent decrease year to year in adults 18 to 49 (3.8/11 vs. 4.7/13) from the comparable year-ago week. ABC is down 18 percent in adults 18 to 34 (3.2/10 vs. 3.9/12) and 16 percent in total viewers (9.93 million vs. 11.76 million).

Fox, which is waiting to roll out several nights of its schedule until the baseball playoffs and World Series end in late October, found itself down 3 percent in adults 18 to 49 (3.1/9 vs. 3.2/9) and 8 percent in adults 18 to 34 (3.4/11 vs. 3.7/11).

UPN is tracking the biggest decreases among the networks, plunging 31 percent in adults 18 to 49 (1.8/5 vs. 2.6/7) and 23 percent in adults 18 to 34 (2.0/6 vs. 2.6/8), due in some part to falling ratings for Thursday’s “WWE Smackdown!”

‘Firefly’ dims Fox’s Friday: On the first Friday of the new season, NBC maintained its hold on the evening (even sans “Providence”) while Fox’s “Firefly”-led lineup looked to be flying south before the winter.

NBC’s expanded two-hour “Dateline” (8 p.m. to 10 p.m., ET), turned in top-ranked scores in adults 18 to 49 (3.3 rating/11 share), total viewers (10.5 million) and households (7.5/14) for the span, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research fast national data. “Dateline” featured an exclusive interview with jailed teacher Mary Kay LeTourneau, who is currently serving prison time after admitting a sexual relationship with a then-teenage male student.

With “Dateline’s” strong opening hour in adults 18 to 49 (2.7/10) and ABC’s winning score from “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (2.9/11) , Fox found its second-week run of the Joss Whedon-created “Firefly” going against heavier competition. “Firefly’s” 2.3/9 average in adults 18 to 34 marked a 24 percent drop from its debut a week earlier (3.0/11) and was off 30 percent from the year-ago season opener of “Dark Angel” (3.3/12) in the time period.

The 9 p.m.-to-10 p.m. hour wasn’t any more kind to ABC or Fox. ABC’s series premiere of back-in-time drama “That Was Then” turned in a meek 1.9/6 in adults 18 to 49 and 4.3 million total viewers-down 50 percent in the demo (3.8/12) and 48 percent in total viewers (9.5 million) from what “Thieves” averaged in the year-ago Friday time slot.

Fox’s critically received “John Doe” drama dropped 28 percent from its previous week’s premiere score in adults 18 to 49 (3.1/10 vs. 4.3/14), but the drama improved 35 percent on its lead-in and 50 percent over what “Pasadena” (2.0/6) averaged in the time slot. CBS’s series premiere of the David Morse-led drama “Hack” came in a competitive second in adults 18 to 49, improving the 9 p.m. hour 43 percent from last year’s “That’s Life” (3.3/11 vs. 2.3/7). “Hack” came in first for the hour in total viewers (12.6 million) and second in households (8.2/14).

The 10 p.m. hour belonged to the third-season opener of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” which posted a 5.2/16 in adults 18 to 49 and an evening-high 14.6 million total viewers. CBS’s series premiere of “Robbery Homicide Division” dropped 21 percent of its “Hack” lead-in among adults 18 to 49 (2.6/8) and 32 percent in total viewers (8.5 million). ABC’s “20/20” came in second for the hour in adults 18 to 49 (3.0/9) and total viewers (9.3 million).

For the night overall, NBC won in adults 18 to 49 (3.9/13), down 10 percent year to year. But it was without “Providence,” which rolls out this Friday. NBC also won in households (8.4/15) and total viewers (11.8 million). Fox came in second in adults 18 to 49 (2.7/9), up 4 percent year to year. CBS and ABC tied at 2.6/9 averages in adults 18 to 49, with the former up 4 percent and the latter down 16 percent year to year.

Goldberg joins WCBS-TV: WCBS-TV, New
York, has made another raid on WNBC-TV to get Joel Goldberg, who will be director of station operations, overseeing news operations, programming and creative services.

At WNBC, Mr. Goldberg was assistant news director to Dianne Doctor, who recently became VP and news director at WCBS. Over the course of 19 years with NBC, he was a producer for “The George Michael Sports Machine,” the supervisor of Olympics coverage for NBC-owned stations and executive producer of key newscasts at WNBC before being named assistant news director in 2000.

In other hiring news, Andrew Kirtzman, a founding reporter at Time Warner Cable’s NY1 news channel, will become political reporter for WCBS in November. He joins longtime reporter Marcia Kramer on the beat.

Mr. Kirtzman has hosted “Inside City Hall,” a live nightly hour about the city’s political scene, for seven years and in 2000 authored “Rudy Giuliani: Emperor of the City.”

High-speed cable Internet access hits 10 million: Cable operators are ending the third quarter of 2002 with more than 10 million high-speed Internet access customers, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association reports.

Modem service provided by broadband cable systems is now available to more than 75 million households in the United States. Based upon national averages, an estimated 50 million of those households own personal computers, the NCTA said.

The organization said that from the 10,000 cable modem customers at the end of 1996 the number increased to 74,000 at the end of 1997; a half million at the end of 1998; 1.6 million by the end of 1999; 3.7 million at the end of 2000, and 7.2 million at the end of 2001.

“Surpassing 10 million high-speed Internet customers is a significant milestone for the cable industry and reflects continued steady growth in consumer demand for cable broadband services,” NCTA President and CEO Robert Sachs said in a statement.

AOL Time Warner to sell sports teams: AOL Time Warner will sell all or some of its sports teams — the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Thrashers.

There is no word from AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner about how he feels about that, having built his WTBS Superstation franchise partly on live Atlanta-based sporting events. With Mr. Turner having lost billions of dollars of his own wealth as a result of AOL Time Warner’s stock decline and the company’s debt nearing $28 billion, the media giant will sell non-core assets to improve its balance sheet. Richard Parsons, chief executive officer, confirmed these sales in a closed meeting with UBS Warburg analysts and clients Friday.

But he denied plans to spin off the AOL service or the America Online unit from the company. “‘Unscrambling those eggs’ could result in two companies with hampered balance sheets and less diversified revenue sources,” Mr. Parsons told the group, according to UBS analyst Christopher Dixon.

The Walt Disney Co. recently hired Lehman Bros. to market its Anaheim Angels baseball team and Mighty Ducks hockey team to prospective buyers.

Herzog promoted at NBC Enterprises: NBC Enterprises has promoted Diane Herzog to VP of publicity. She will oversee publicity, corporate communications and talent relations for all ancillary businesses of NBC including domestic syndication, international, consumer products and music.

Ms. Herzog joined NBC Enterprises as director of publicity in December 2000. In addition to corporate communications and talent relations with station affiliates across the country, she was responsible for managing and supervising publicity launch campaigns for domestic syndication programs “The Other Half,” “Weakest Link,” “The John Walsh Show” and “The Chris Matthews Show” and the ongoing publicity campaign for “Access Hollywood,” among others.